Skip to main content
photo of hand with money Sell buy shipping your car

8 Things to Consider Before Selling a Car

Whether you are a seasoned veteran at flipping cars or a newbie selling your first ride, it never hurts to have a refresher course (or a crash course) on how to sell a car. If you are ready to learn (or relearn) how to do just that, you’re in the right place. Our car shipping experts at Direct Express Auto Transport cover eight essentials to consider before selling a car. Learn everything you need to know before selling and shipping your vehicle with our trusted team today!

Get Your Paperwork Together 

Before even considering selling a car, ensure you have the title. A car title is a legal form establishing a person or business as the legal owner of a vehicle. Without it, you cannot make someone else the legal owner of your car. Each state has slightly different rules for transferring car titles, so make sure that you research exactly how you have to transfer ownership of a vehicle in your state. If you have moved states recently but still have a car title from your old state, you might have to title your car in your new state before you can sell it there. Again, researching the different state’s rules on title transference will help put you on the right track.

Research a Good Price, Then Set Your Asking Price

Picking a price for your vehicle can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Regarding pricing, online research is once again your best friend. Look into Kelly Blue Book prices for your car by searching for the same make and model year with similar mileage. After browsing Kelley Blue Book, search online car marketplaces to see what others are asking for similar makes and models.

When selling a car, “when” matters; after you’ve established a price range from your research, you’ll find that your selling timeframe will dictate which end of the spectrum your asking price will fall on. Just like with selling a house, if you have to sell your car fast, you will probably need to list it at a low price to generate the desired interest. But on the other hand, if you plan (which you most definitely should!), you can afford to list your car at the high end of the range and hope that you find someone looking for exactly what you are selling at a price that is great for you.

Establish a Minimum in Advance of Negotiations

In the United States, second-hand car selling is one of the last places where an asking price isn’t necessarily set in stone. Know this before you put your car up for sale so that you aren’t surprised and turned off by potential buyers that throw you numbers lower than your asking price. You can always be firm about only taking offers that are your exact asking price, but once again, this might lead you to lose out on potential sales. 

Before putting your car on the market, establish a minimum number you will take for your vehicle. Write that number down. Tape it up on your fridge. Look at it every morning before breakfast. Burn it into your head so that when negotiation time rolls around, you won’t get sweet-talked into a price lower than you are willing to take. Bad at bartering with people? Enlist friends or family members with natural sales tendencies to negotiate for you. They may not know how to sell a car, but they will learn how to deal with haggling. They’ll likely be able to get you a much better price than you could get on your own.

Get Your Car Looking its Very Best

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all of the difference. A few hundred dollars spent on the front end could save you thousands on the back end when you finally try to sell your car. Do an inventory of the damages to your car, both minor and major. Before you bring the car into your local body shop, see if you can fix any of the dents or clean away any scuffs with affordable auto care products found at most shops. 

If you’re not that handy and not that comfortable fixing the minor surface issues yourself, ask a gearhead friend to try it, or get your local body shop to do it when you take your vehicle in for more extensive repairs. Be wise about how much money you will put into your car before trying to sell it. If it looks like you’re going to have to put in thousands of dollars to fix up your car, and you’re only going to sell it for a few thousand, it may be best to forgo the repairs. It’s always an option (sometimes the best) to sell your car in its current condition.

Take Great (Current) Pictures of Your Car 

A good photo will go a long way in upselling your car. A great picture will go even further. Cell phone cameras are getting nicer and nicer, so you can handle taking photos on your own. If you don’t trust your eye, enlist the help of a friend with a good-looking Instagram or Facebook. 

Once you have the pictures, compose them on your computer to ensure the lighting and colors are correct. Here, you should talk to someone with a few photo-editing skills to make your pictures pop. That will help distinguish your car from the thousands of others sold online. A final suggestion: make sure you upload current photos of your vehicle. No one wants to be fooled by five-year-old photos. That’s a surefire way to face haggling from the start.

Disseminate Your Ads

In this day and age, selling your car is a digital endeavor. The days of window advertising and pasteboards are all but behind us. (Though if you still want to advertise this way, we won’t stop you.) With the internet, there is an incredible collection of advertising and research tools at your fingertips. Kelly Blue Book is the first place you should start when listing your car. It is the largest, most reputable site out there for buying and selling cars. But don’t just stop there. 

Consider listing your car on,, eBay Auto, and Craigslist. If you have a specialty car, do some research on specialty car sites to find an audience that’s more likely to give your vehicle a look. Be smart about your listing choices, but don’t be too discriminatory. The wider the net you cast, the more likely you’ll catch a buyer.

The Sale Scale: Local, National, or Worldwide?

Before listing, decide whether you want to sell your car to local, nationwide, or worldwide buyers. In the previous section, we recommend casting as wide of a net as possible. This same logic primarily applies here. You never know if there’s a rancher out in Wyoming or a Soccer Mom in Connecticut dreaming of buying a ‘06 Grey Toyota Camry with 135,000 miles on it. Plus, you stand a much better chance of being able to sell your car for the full asking price if you sell to the entire nation. Haggling is much harder online, and opening up your vehicle to a wider audience increases the likelihood that you’ll find a buyer willing to pay top dollar.

However, if you sell your car to an interstate or international buyer, you’ll likely have to ship it. Ensure you establish a way of safely and effectively transporting the money, title, and, eventually, the car safely and effectively. Invest in a car shipping company that is highly reviewed, priced affordably, and offers the options you’re looking for.

Think About Your Safety

Knowing how to sell a car safely is an essential component of the car-selling process. Have a safety plan before listing your vehicle so that when interested buyers start calling and emailing you, you will know the proper precautions before meeting up for a test drive. 

Set up a separate email account that you will use specifically for the sale of the car, and consider getting a Google Voice number so that you don’t have to exchange your actual phone number and email address with random internet strangers. Don’t worry about letting calls go to voicemail. Assess whether callers seem sketchy or legitimate based on their voicemails or email responses. If they pass your litmus test, propose to schedule a meet-up in a public place. 

If things go well, go ahead and offer a supervised test drive. Bring a friend to one or both of these meet-ups for safety. Your potential buyer will also do the same because safety goes both ways. Think about safety early so you can plan accordingly for each step of the process.

Learn More and Ship Your Car With Direct Express Auto Transport

If you end up selling your car to an interstate buyer and need to find a reliable and affordable auto transportation company, look no further than our direct Express Auto Transport team. For years, we have led the interstate car shipping industry in the contiguous 48 states with our passionate team of dispatchers, drivers, and customer service representatives working round the clock to get your vehicle to its new happy owner. Don’t believe us? Please read what our satisfied customers say on Trustpilot, get your instant quote, and ship with us today!

The Original Car Shipping Quote Calculator

Direct Express Auto Transport originated the instant car shipping quote calculator in 2004. It is still the best, most sophisticated, reliable tool available anywhere online. We offer three options that we call tiers of car shipping estimates. The standard rate is the cheapest car shipping quote, but it may take longer. Use it if you are patient. We recommend the expedited car shipping rate and have countless satisfied customers because the shipping process tends to go quicker.

car selling tips


Auto Transport Rates, auto transport tips